Bailey appeals decision to charge him over Toscan du Plantier death
Hearing before France’s highest court is scheduled to take place early next month
Ian Bailey leaving the High Court in Dublin in 2015. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Lawyers for English journalist Ian Bailey have appealed to France’s highest court against a decision to charge him in relation to the killing of French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork over 20 years ago.
French lawyer Dominique Tricaud said he had lodged appeal papers with the Cour de Cassation, or French supreme court, against the refusal of the French Court of Appeal, the Chambre d’Instruction, to strike out a charge of voluntary homicide against Mr Bailey over Ms Toscan du Plantier’s death.
Mr Tricaud said the hearing before the Cour de Cassation is scheduled for May 2nd and he would be arguing strongly that the Chambre d’Instruction was wrong not allow Mr Bailey’s appeal against being charged by the French authorities with the 1996 killing of Ms Toscan du Plantier near Schull.
Mr Tricaud said he would argue Ireland was “the natural judge” of the case and the French decision to carry out its own investigation and subsequent decision to charge Mr Bailey with the killing had shown little regard for the Irish system of justice which found Mr Bailey had no case to answer.
Mr Bailey, a British citizen living in Schull, Co Cork, denies involvement in the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier during the night of December 22nd-23rd.
Mr Tricaud said the decision by the French authorities to charge Mr Bailey with the voluntary homicide was tantamount to “double jeopardy” given that the Irish DPP had carried out an extensive review of the case in 2001 and decided there was not sufficient evidence to charge Mr Bailey.
“I don’t know if the argument about double jeopardy based on Robert Sheehan’s 2001 review of the case for the DPP’s office will work because Ireland has not signed the Schengen Convention - it would be stronger if Ireland was a signatory but it is still an important argument to make,” he said.
Mr Tricaud said the French document prepared by Magistrate Nathalie Turquey was distinctly less thorough when compared with Mr Sheehan’s review which was much more rigorous with every aspect of the case being examined before deciding whether or not a charge was merited.
“The Sheehan document takes accounts of all of the facts- he looks at each aspect of the case, piece by piece, and says there is not enough evidence to support a charge whereas the French indictment is like a tract for the civil plaintiffs (Ms Toscan du Plantier’s family), “ he said.
Point of law
Mr Tricaud acknowledged Mr Bailey can only base his appeal to the Cour de Cassation on a point of law or procedure rather than an issue of fact but said if Mr Bailey were to lose this appeal, he could not see his trial in absentia proceeding for up to two years.
“I can say that for somebody who is in custody, it can take between one and two years to come to trial so for somebody who is not in custody in what is for a very old case that is not very urgent, it could take over two years,” he said.
However lawyer, Alain Spilliaert, who acts for Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son, Pierre Louis Vignaud Baudey, predicted a trial would proceed quite quickly if the Cour de Cassation rejects Mr Bailey’s appeal against the decision to charge him.
Mr Spilliaert said the five judges of the Cour de Cassation will deliver their judgement on Mr Bailey’s appeal on May 7th so they will not take an overly long time to deliberate on the matter and this was indicative of the urgency with which they were approaching the case.
The family and the campaign group, the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (ASSOPH) said if the Cour de Cassation rules in favour of a prosecution, they would argue to have the trial in absentia before the end of 2018.
Mr Bailey (61), with an address at the Prairie, Liscaha in Schull, Co Cork was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning but was never charged here in relation to the killing.
He has denied any involvement in the death and has also denied making any admissions that he killed the 39-year-old mother of one.